Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata (Linnaeus, 1758)

Order: Anseriformes Family: Anatidae Status: Breeding in Madeira

Muscovy Duck Field ID Keys

Shape & Size

A big and heavily built duck with a wide flat tail and big feet.

Colour Pattern

This feral species is normally black and white, with some glossy feathers though some interbreeding with other species can make them have some different colours. The main feature of Muscovy duck is its pink to reddish wattles around the bill, being larger and brighter on males.


We believe in Madeira we have the domestic subspecies Cairina moschata domestica which is heavier and less able to fly long distances than the wild subspecies Cairina moschata sylvestris.


This species was native to South and Central America though it has been spreading its range, as a domestic and later as feral duck, to North America, Europe, New Zealand
In Madeira they are normally found in fresh to brackish water ponds and river mouths, mostly where they get fed by people.

Distinction from similar species

The pink-red fleshy caruncle around its bill makes Muscovy ducks very distinctive from other duck species.

Cairina moschata Biometrics

Total length: Approx. 86 cm (Wikipedia)
Weight: 4.6–6.8 kg (Wikipedia)

Other Bird Facts

Seasonality in Madeira: All year
Breeding: On a hollow on ground at water’s edge they lay 8 to 16 eggs on each of up to 3 annual broods.
Diet: They pick grains, grass and insects from the water and ground but also feed on what people give them, as bread, corn, vegetables and fruits.


Madeira local status by Correia-Fagundes et al, 2021: Common breeding bird
Madeira local status by Romano et al, 2010: Rare breeding bird
Conservation status by the IUCN Red List Categories, 2013: Least Concern ver 3.1

Name of this species in other languages

Madeiran: Pato-mudo
Portuguese: Pato-do-mato
German: Moschusente
Dutch: Muskuseend
Swedish: Myskand
Danish: Moskusand
Finish: Myskisorsa
Norwegian: Knoppand
Spanish: Pato Criollo
French: Canard musqué
Italian: Anatra muta
Polish: Pizmówka amerykanska
Slovak: Pižmovka lesklá
Czech: Pižmovka velká
English synonyms: Musk duck, Barbary Duck

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